Every year, New York City includes in its Pride festivities a huge outdoor dance party on a pier off the Hudson River in Chelsea. Michael Lutz, President of the Board of Directors for Capital Pride, says people have asked for years for something similar here: ''Why can't we do something on the Mall?''
This year, with the Capital Pride Alliance, Inc. having taken over responsibility for Pride from the Whitman-Walker Clinic, there is just such an event. ''We're finally able to deliver to the community an event on the Mall outdoors, under the stars,'' explains Lutz. ''Pride After Dark: The Last Dance'' will take place starting at 9 p.m. Saturday, June 13, in the Sculpture Garden at the Hirshhorn Museum.
Lutz says the model is less New York's Pier Dance and more Hirshhorn's own occasional After-Hours party, although the Pride event will go later, until 2 a.m. ''If you've ever been to any of the Hirshhorn After-Hours events, you know the energy is always great,'' Lutz says. ''People have a good time. I even went to one when it was pouring down rain, and it was still packed and people were still having a good time.'' Pride After Dark will also go on even if it rains.
''It's designed to be a party for everyone,'' he continues. ''A chance to bring everyone, men, women, together for a really great time.'' The party will feature a cash bar courtesy of a catering company. The Sculpture Garden can hold about 2,000 people, but Lutz encourages people to buy tickets in advance. ''We do expect the event to sell out,'' he says.
''There's going to be a number of different DJs and entertainers throughout,'' says Lutz. A half-dozen DJs from all over the country have been lined up to spin. But this year's event won't feature any major spectacles or fireworks. ''Unfortunately not," says Lutz. "That'd be great. Maybe next year.'' The focus is on establishing a new tradition that can be built on and expanded later.
''This being our first year of producing Capital Pride, for the Capital Pride Alliance to hit a benchmark like this is a big achievement,'' says Lutz. ''We listened to the wants, needs and desires of the community, and this is one of those we've been able to fulfill.''
Pride After Dark: Last Dance takes place Saturday, June 13, from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. at the Sculpture Garden at the Hirshhorn Museum, Independence Ave. and 7th St. SW. Tickets are $25. Call 202-719-5304 or visit www.capitalpride.org.